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Mitch Barnhart on the rapidly changing landscape of college athletics

College athletics could be facing a “perfect storm.”

Syndication: Louisville Mike Weaver/Special to the Courier Journal

With the new NIL and transfer portal rules, roster tampering, and sports gambling, college athletics could be facing a “perfect storm.”

Kentucky’s athletics director Mitch Barnhart was asked in an interview with CatsPause about the potential “perfect storm” and how college athletics’ current landscape has been referred to as “unsustainable.”

“Unsustainable? That’s a lot,” Mitch Barnhart said. “Really difficult? Absolutely.

“If you’re talking about recruiting, if you’re talking about NIL, if you’re talking about litigation, if you’re talking about budgets, if you’re talking about facilities. When you put it all together, it’s highly difficult,” Barnhart said. “I don’t think you can take any of these in a singular bucket and say unsustainable. Put all together, it is really difficult.”

One of the biggest topics in college athletics right now is NIL. Every school seems to be doing it their own way and every state has its own laws. On top of that, on a national level (either Congress or the NCAA) nothing has been done to regulate it.

“It’s something that is on the minds of everyone,” Barnhart said. “Obviously, we’re appealing to folks on both sides of the aisle to help us through a landscape which has morphed into unchartered waters. I’m hopeful that people will recognize there needs to be some standardization of that landscape. I’m hopeful that we can get consistency about the way that we all do our work. Without that, it is a little bit chaotic.”

Many have described NIL as “Pay For Play” and Barnhart notes that what NIL was supposed to be and what it currently is are two totally different things.

“There are a lot of people have described it that way,” Barnhart said. “I look at what it was meant to be and sort of where it is and those are two remarkably different conversations.”

In order to maintain programs like football and men’s basketball, some have suggested that smaller sports may need to be cut.

Barnhart’s goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“We have 600 student-athletes and 23 sports programs,” he said. “My goal is to maintain opportunity for all 600 because I know that young person is working as hard, if not harder than anybody in my program. And it means as much to them as it does to them.”

There is no doubt that college athletics is changing rapidly and could be on a dangerous path if proper actions are not taken to regulate the changing landscape.

You can check out everything Mitch Barnhart had to say in his interview here.